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Trump immigration comments spark chaos in GOP

Trump immigration comments spark chaos in GOP
© Fox News

House GOP leaders have put a compromise immigration bill on ice after President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE said Friday he “certainly” would not sign the legislation.

Trump’s comments have thrown into doubt whether House Republicans will even take up the thorny issue of immigration this crucial election year. Immigration votes had been planned for next week.

Republican leaders at the last-minute scrapped a planned Friday whip check on the compromise bill. Instead, they will try to gauge support for the bill next week after they get clarification about what exactly Trump meant in his Friday interview on Fox News, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel Kavanaugh hires attorney amid sexual assault allegations: report MORE (R-N.C.) told reporters.

McHenry cautioned that House Republicans won’t “take on” immigration unless they have Trump's backing.

“We want to get clarity on the president’s position on this bill,” McHenry said just off the House floor. “Republicans are not going to take on immigration without the support and endorsement of President Trump.”

Even if leadership pushes ahead with the vote, one key lawmaker questioned whether Thursday is still a realistic timetable.

“In light of everything, I think it's fair to ask the question: Is next Thursday premature on these two votes?” said Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerDisasters become big chunk of U.S. deficit GOP lawmaker reports 'threatening' Twitter messages to police US and Canada working furiously to come to NAFTA agreement MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).

Trump later tweeted a list of priorities that are already included in the compromise immigration bill.

Trump’s impromptu remarks threw a wrench into GOP leadership’s immigration plans.

Republican leaders, who were desperate to stave off a discharge petition from centrists that would force a free-wheeling immigration debate on the House floor, reached an agreement to hold two votes next week on a pair of immigration bills, including the compromise measure and a more hard-line bill from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier in the week said that Trump was “excited” about the compromise bill, while White House senior adviser Stephen Miller had met with conservatives on Capitol Hill to rally support for the immigration framework.

But several top House conservatives declared the 293-page compromise bill “dead on arrival” following Trump’s comments Friday.

Trump’s remarks were a “relief,” said Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingJulian Castro responds to Steve King 'Hispanic' comments: 'He does what he usually does' Julián Castro says he’s 'likely' to run in 2020 Steve King: Julian and Joaquin Castro learned Spanish to ‘qualify as retroactive Hispanics’ MORE (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner who predicted that votes on both immigration bills would fail next week.

Asked if Republicans could pass an immigration bill without Trump’s support, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMeadows calls on Rosenstein to resign 'immediately' Republicans should prepare for Nancy Pelosi to wield the gavel House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein MORE (R-Ohio), a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, tersely replied: “No.”

The compromise immigration bill is “on life support,” added Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtHealthy business vs healthy people — how will this administration address the two? The stakes are sky-high for the pro-life cause in the upcoming midterms Adoption Provider Act is about religious freedom — not same-sex adoption MORE (R-Ala.), an RSC member who opposes that legislation.

Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSenate passes key cyber bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns with election interference claim against China | FCC limits fees for 5G | Uber reaches 8M settlement over breach | Fox sells Sky stake to Comcast | House passes bills to fix cyber vulnerabilities Sessions calls on former colleagues to send drone legislation to Trump's desk MORE (R-Texas) said they were expecting the White House to put out a statement “any minute” clarifying Trump’s comments.

Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenDemocrats have a long history of supporting Israel GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms MORE (R-Fla.), who is facing a tough reelection bid in a district that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Republicans cancel airtime in swing Vegas district The Democratic Donald Trump is coming MORE won by nearly 20 points in 2016, added, “This is going to be a cliffhanger.”

The compromise measure sticks to the four main pillars demanded by Trump: It creates a new merit-based visa program for so-called Dreamers, provides $25 billion for border security, ends the diversity visa lottery program and limits family-based migration.

The legislation goes even further by including a trigger mechanism to halt the new visas if Congress denies funding for the border wall, ending the separation of immigrant children and parents at the border, and ending “catch and release” immigration loopholes.

Centrist Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartFormer TV journalist gives GOP rare dose of hope in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump rips 'ridiculous' spending bill | FBI dragged into new fight | Latest on Maryland shooting Jeb Bush campaigns with Rick Scott in Florida MORE (R-Fla.), one of the key negotiators, said the compromise bill is the last, best chance for any immigration and border security proposal to become law this year.

“It's the only shot at [the wall] and it's the only shot, I believe ... to legalize the Dreamers, stop the deportation of the Dreamers, and to have a permanent fix for them," said Diaz-Balart.

This isn't the first time that Trump has scuttled GOP leadership's plans by announcing last-minute opposition to a bill. 

Hours before the House was scheduled to vote on controversial legislation renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program in January, Trump tweeted that the program was used to "badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign."

Capitol Hill was instantly thrown into confusion ahead of what was already expected to be a tight vote before Trump walked back his comments in a separate tweet.

Rafael Bernal and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.

Updated at 1:19 p.m.